Alexon Group blamed poor weather on a like-for-like sales fall of 14.3% in the 23 weeks to January 9.

The womenswear retailer, which owns the Alexon, Ann Harvey, Minuet, Dash, Kaliko and Eastex fascias, said its sales have historically been very dependent on weather, with extreme conditions keeping its customers at home.

During the same period last year, Alexon posted a like-for-like sales drop of 10.5%.

The first three weeks of the period, since Alexon’s last update to November 21, the retailer saw its decline in sales continue on a less steep curve, with like-for-likes down 6.2% for that period.

Alexon saw gross margin for the period dip 0.8% points from the previous year. Alexon said its continuing policy of minimising stock levels combined with increased promotional activity in department stores where it has concessions were behind the fall.

Following continuing negative sales Alexon has updated its prediction for the year ended January 30 2010 to be slightly below market expectations.

However, Alexon said consumer reaction to the early phases of its spring 2010 collections has been positive and added that sales of full-price stock is continuing to improve across all the brands season on season. Online sales for the group are also improving, both through its own and its partners’ websites.

Alexon said 2010 would be challenging but said measures including addressing its onerous property leases would help the group to accelerate its turnaround plan.